Our goal is to provide specific and actionable project recommendations for hurricane protection and climate adaptation that could result in US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) feasibility studies.
The research and design work is proceeding in collaboration with members of the Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, including their National Planning Center for Coastal Storm Risk Management and the Corps’ Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
SCR aims to complement the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS), which was assigned to the USACE under authority of the Disaster Relief Appropriation Act of 2013. As part of a group of federal initiatives enacted in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, this study addresses the flood risks to vulnerable coastal populations via the design and deployment of structural, nonstructural, and ‘natural and nature based features’ (NNBFs).
Storm surges are one of the most devastating aspects of land-falling hurricanes.
Storm surges are the primary cause of death and a significant source of damage to ecological and structural systems. Areas along coastal regions are particularly vulnerable to these hazards.
The objective of the Structures of Coastal Resilience (SCR) engineering teams is to assess the risk of storm surge at the four susceptible locations identified by the design teams: Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island; Jamaica Bay, New York; Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Norfolk and Hampton Roads, Virginia.
With consideration of the changing climate, we will assess the risk of storm surge for both current and future climate scenarios.
SCR combines state of the art climate science for local sea level rise estimation and probabalistic hurricane storm surge hazards assessment with imaginative design proposals for four communities on the North Atlantic coast.
SCR brings together a distinguished group of engineers, scientists, architects, landscape architects, and scholars, matching depth of design experience with the latest science. The project proposes designing for risk, suggesting that we can imagine and build resilient coastal communities not only through in-depth understanding of predicted changes but also through the accommodation of variable and uncertain future conditions. In developing new methodologies for dynamic performance based flood resistant design, SCR teams aim for strategies that are simple, efficient, and easily understood and applied. This is accomplished by identifying clear storm scenarios for frequent to extreme events that include the effect of climate change and sea level rise over this century.
The three principles of attenuation, protection, and planning are central to the design approach and methodology that define the Structures of Coastal Resilience project.
The implications for flood resistant design are clear and can be summarized in three principles:
Attenuation and dissipation of wave energy offshore to reduce the demands on barriers and levees or wetlands where they exist or to building and structures where they do not;
Protection with both flood structures and building code requirements knowing that some flooding will inevitably occur;
Planning for controlled flooding through urban and landscape flood plain management and design.
Read the full chapter here by Enrique Ramirez and Guy Nordenson
U.S. North Atlantic coast sea level rise is almost certain to be higher than the global mean over the 21st century.
Due to ongoing land subsidence and projections of enhanced dynamic sea-level rise in the mid-Atlantic, local sea level rise will likely exceed the global mean. At the four tide gauges considered here, the median local sea level projections in 2100 range from 90-110 cm, substantially higher than the global mean value of 78 cm. Local mean sea level rise predictions must be combined with those for storm surge, however, in order to indicate trends in flood risk.
Because sea level exhibits a lagged response to emissions, the rate of global sea level and local sea level rise increases with time. Therefore, the magnitude of sea level change is expected to be much larger over the second half of the century than the first half. Uncertainty also grows over time.
Read the full chapter here by Christopher M. Little and Michael Oppenheimer
Rather than assessing historical surge data, the Hurricane Storm Surge Hazards Assessment team simulates synthetic surges using observed and projected climate data.
In order to produce a new assessment of the current and future risks of coastal inundation at the four SCR study areas on the U.S. North Atlantic coast, the SCR team bases their storm surge hazards assessment on large numbers of synthetic hurricanes generated for current and projected future climate conditions. Once a synthetic hurricane is generated, its wind and pressure fields force a hydrodynamic model that simulates the storm surge. Based on the simulated surge database, statistical analyses are carried out to estimate the surge risk for various climate conditions. The surge risk is then combined with the projected sea level rise probabilities to estimate the future inundation risk.
Read the full chapter here by Ning Lin and Talea L. Mayo
The SCR project uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and geospatial models to evaluate the effects of flooding on the U.S. North Atlantic coast.
GIS and geospatial modeling are key to relating numerical models with natural and nature-based features and to understanding coastal resiliency in context. First, coastal elevation and bathymetric data are combined to create a topobathy model which allows the study of continuous changes in elevation from the seafloor to the coastal uplands. Next, the water surface produced by storm surge and sea level rise is mapped relative to this Digital Elevation Model (DEM) at multiple points in time, and according to multiple return periods (100 year, 500 year, and 2500 year storms). Inundation levels are then calculated by subtracting existing or designed topography from the modeled water surface.
GIS mapping techniques are used throughout the SCR project as a tool for the design, testing, and verification of structures of coastal resilience.